Intel Reaches an Agreement with FTC Over Anti-Competitive Practices

bp9801 - August 5, 2010 02:53PM in General News

The long running legal battle between the FTC and Intel seems to finally be coming to an end. Intel and the FTC have reached a tentative agreement about the anti-competitive practices Intel employed and how the chip maker can rectify the problems. There are four specific restrictions on the list that Intel must comply with in order to avoid any further problems.

The first restriction is that Intel is required to alter its licensing agreement with AMD, NVIDIA, and VIA Technologies. Nothing specific was stated but the FTC probably wants Intel to allow its competitors a greater degree of freedom to merge and collaborate without worrying if Intel will unleash its lawyers. This also means that Intel and AMD won't have any problems like the companies did when AMD decided to outsource its chip production. It also could mean that we may see NVIDIA release integrated solutions on Intel motherboards though this is just pure speculation and there really is no telling what it could mean.

The second restriction deals with VIA Technologies again though this is simply to force Intel to extend VIA's license an additional five years when it expires in 2013. So not only will the licensing agreement be looser but VIA will get a nice extension in the process.

The third restriction requires that Intel must continue to support the PCI-e interface for at least six more years. This will allow future graphics cards to function normally without suffering any performance hits. This restriction seems like a precaution since it had been rumored that Intel was going to drop PCI-e since it did not want the competing GPU makers to have a usable interface. This most likely would not have affected desktop graphics cards but rather the laptop ones since Intel would have forced everyone to use its integrated solution and force all the discrete cards out of the market.

The fourth and final restriction is that Intel is required to inform developers that its in-house compilers only produce Intel-optimized code. In addition to that is Intel will be required to reimburse developers who intend to compile applications with a non-Intel compiler. This most likely means that Intel will not be allowed to force its compiler on developers who do not wish to use it.

These four restrictions are still tentative so there may be some changes over the next 30 days. No mention of Intel being fined was made in this report so it makes you wonder what that will be like when it is made public.